November 30, 2022

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Here's Rashid under the truck on a plane in Europe

Here’s Rashid under the truck on a plane in Europe

– I don’t want to starve. Rashid says from Aleppo, Syria: I want to live.

While fleeing his homeland, he crossed the sea in a small boat, walked on foot, received help from people smugglers, and got stuck from the bottom of a truck to cross Europe. Rasheed talks about escaping.

– We found a bridge where we made a fire and tried to dry the clothes. The police came and I had no shoes, but I ran without shoes. He says, we managed to escape.

After that he decided to find a truck to go north in Europe.

Next stop: Many immigrants to Europe now go to Germany. The train station in Prague became a gathering place for the migrants before the last stop of their escape. Photo: Santiago Vergara / TV 2

We meet Rachid from Syria and Karim from Morocco in the garden outside the train station in Prague. The station became a gathering place for immigrants who wanted a better life in Europe.

In Rasheed’s homeland Syria, there is a shortage of bread and fuel, among other things. Large parts of the country remain in ruins after the war that began in 2011.

According to the United Nations, nearly 1.5 million Syrians live in dire need. Rashid made several attempts to reach Europe.

For many, the train station is the beginning of the last stop for the escape, as Germany directed it. The influx of refugees and asylum seekers has increased dramatically in recent months.

See the factbox with more stats in the text

Many migrants have not crossed the border into Europe since 2016 during the first nine months of the year. In this case, Ukrainians are not counted in the statistics, because they have the right to remain in the EU.

On the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic – border control was introduced here due to the influx of refugees and asylum seekers

Rashid found the truck in a “truck stop” in Hungary. He and another refugee he met on the road were put on the spare wheel under the car and they got stuck. At the risk of their lives, kilometer after kilometer was covered in the European continent. A video taken with a mobile phone shows us under the truck, showing the two of us during the dangerous journey.

(See the video at the top of the article)

The car trip was only part of the escape, and the majority were completed on foot.

– I walked 20-30 kilometers every day. Rashid says it took me two months. He walked large parts of the road without shoes.

In some ways, he received help from smugglers, including from Turkey to Greece. Across the sea in a small boat.

It was the hardest trip through Hungary.

– It was tough and had a lot of cops. Everyone who saw us in Hungary called the police. It was very difficult to cross that country. I don’t know why they did that. In North Macedonia they treated us better.

Check all cars

In recent weeks, several EU countries have introduced increased border controls, including the Czech Republic and Austria.

Queues at the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic due to border controls. Drone video: Santiago Vergara

We are driving from Vienna in Austria on our way to Prague, the Czech capital. Take the road around Slovakia. On the highway before the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, there are mile-long traffic jams. Trucks in one queue and cars in another queue. At the border crossings, cars are checked. None of the police officers on duty at the Czech border station would like to be interviewed. But they are happy to say if they can remain anonymous.

– The number of arrivals is now greater than it was in 2015. At least 200 immigrants every day, without visas and papers. Those without papers will be sent back to cross the border.

We see that several men were taken to a police car and taken away.

Border control: Within the Schengen area there should normally be no border control, but countries are free to set controls if necessary. Here on the border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic, border control has been introduced because many migrants cross the border. Photo: Santiago Vergara / TV 2

There are also border controls on small roads. The border police are looking for both people smugglers and migrants. Usually there is no border control at these border crossings, due to Schengen cooperation. Border checks must be carried out at the external borders of the European Union.

Warning of the refugee crisis

A few weeks ago, the head of the German police union, Heiko Teigatz, came out and warned of a new wave of refugees. In particular, the number of cross-border migrants from Poland has increased. About 1,000 people cross the Polish-German border daily. The majority come from the Middle East and Africa.

Warning: Heiko Teigatz, trade union leader for the German police, has warned of a new wave of refugees like 2015. Photo: Bundespolizei

Warning: Heiko Teigatz, trade union leader for the German police, has warned of a new wave of refugees like 2015. Photo: Bundespolizei

– Tiggatz told German media that these are warning signs one should not ignore. If measures are not taken against all arrivals now, the situation will spiral out of control as in 2015, warns the top police officer. He wants a temporary border control on the Polish-German border. So far, only Germany has imposed border controls on the border with Austria. In 2015, one million refugees and asylum seekers came to Europe, and the situation was chaotic in many countries. 30,000 came to Norway.

Countries like Austria and Belgium are currently struggling to absorb the influx of migrants. In Austria, the government faced strong backlash after a proposal to set up tents to house refugees and asylum seekers. In Brussels, the country’s largest refugee reception center has had to close several times due to the heavy burden on staff.

Facts: Migrants to Europe in 2022

A total of 228,240 migrants arrived in Europe in the first nine months of this year. This is the highest number since 2016

33,380 came in September, up 25 percent from the same month last year

Refugee routes through the Western Balkans and across the central part of the Mediterranean to Italy are the busiest

52,700 migrants crossed or attempted to cross the English Channel in the first nine months of the year. This is 68 percent more than the same period last year.

Refugees and asylum seekers come from Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Egypt and others. Through Serbia and Albania, which have visa-free access to the European Union, migrants arrived from Cuba, Tunisia, India and Burundi.

Ukrainian refugees are not included in the figures. They have the right to remain in the European Union. 11 million Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the European Union since the war began. It is not known how many have returned

Source: EU border agency Frontex.

Rasheed has escaped the police four times while heaving a sigh of relief because he is in Prague.

– Since I came to the Czech Republic, I have been treated well. We took our fingerprints at the border and then were sent to Prague by train. The organizations allowed us access to a doctor who treated us. We went to a hotel, showered, and got food and clothes.

On the way: Rasheed (left) and Karim heading to Berlin, the last stop of their escape.  Photo: Santiago Vergara / TV 2

On the way: Rasheed (left) and Karim heading to Berlin, the last stop of their escape. Photo: Santiago Vergara / TV 2

However, Germany is the dream, as are many who take the train in Prague. Berlin is Rashid’s last stop. There he hopes to get a residence permit and a better life.

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